Ironman & Duathlon
Michael started his performance programme with CPS In-Motion in July 2016, his initial target event was the Swiss Ironman 2017. Mike had already raced a solid time in 2014 of 10h 48′. Running was his strongest discipline, with a run leg of 3h48 which wasn’t representative of his good 10km pace. We set significant, yet realistic event and performance objectives…of at least a 10% improvement in personal best time and 15% increase in lactate power-to-weight and lactate threshold pace for running.
Like many competitive endurance athletes, fitting high volume training weeks around a busy schedule isnt practical in terms of compliance, but also ability to adapt and recover in quick succession. Having a prolonged preparatory period before the big event meant that we were able to lay solid foundations in strength and conditioning, with some focus on soft-tissue mobilisation and sports physiotherapy to re-align any biomechanical imbalances which may act as limiters of performance.
Mike had also selected well-timed training races to act as milestones and breakthrough events for practicing pacing and strategy, and translate training to performance, including shorter distance road running events, cycling sportive and a half-ironman. We started to optimally blend aerobic conditioning of cycling and running, complementary with resistance sessions gauged at sufficient intensity to incrementally increase exposure for cardio-respiratory improvements in both disciplines. At the same time we were able to focus on lactate threshold power and pace for increasing duration, although there was a need to boost Mikes anaerobic capacity as he had been commited to steady-state cycling for much of his previous training and high volumes of running. Both together, this frequently effects sustainable lactate power and requires improvements in anaerobic capacity to correct.
Mike was able to complete almost full phases of resistance periodisation of adaptation, strength, power and endurance before focusing on practical performance and breakthough distances. A top 10 in the 8 miler Lidl Breakfast run at just under 50 minutes, was a solid indication of good marathon performance trajectory with brick sessions planned imminently. This was also represented by a tremendous change in lactate threshold pace and heart rate which we measured with the highest sustainable aerobic pace at almost 2km/hr faster than baseline (see image right).
Reluctantly, a few months prior to the event, Mikes programme came to a premature end due to over-riding life demands which weren’t compatible with his training schedule and objectives. Clearly disappointed, Mike was able to navigate his immediate responsibilities well without his conditioning deteriorating too far below his baseline. In December 2017 he recommenced his training to target the Geneva half marathon but unfortunately suffered a severe non-training related injury, fracturing a bone in his foot earlier this year.
Mike is now more motivated than ever to bounce back from this setback, even stronger and faster, targeting the 2018 BallBuster read more here, as we steer him through rehabilitation and build the foundations for this exceptionally challenging duathlon event in the south-east, UK for a top performance.
UPDATE Feb 2019: London Duathlon & Seville Marathon
Mikes endurance events changed drastically in 2018, due to the unfortunate injury sustained he decided on targeting the balmy 2019 Seville Marathon to give himself some more training time and motivation. This meant we chose The London Duathlon as a training race in September. Mikes severe ankle injury took him out of action for several weeks, unable to walk or be load-bearing, he was soon back in the gym, building up the important foundations and structured spin-bike sessions at the start of April, with only 6 months until the London Duathlon… some smart structure was required, also necessary to fit in with Mikes demanding career and travel.
With a layered approach to conditioning, we were lucky to know which physiological triggers worked well for him, as well as focus on event demands to match that capacity. The Richmond Park duathlon course is not flat, and four laps soon adds up to some significant climbing effort at target race pace. We also had to approach his running a bit more tentatively, until he was comfortable at 5km distance within an acceptable pace to start a more effective approach for the 10/44/5km Duathlon.
My prescription for combining Mikes run and ride sessions were more consistent with block periodisation, as this allowed time to get good exposure on the bike (his weaker discipline) but also work on running limiters without too much fatigue from cycling. Initially intervals sessions were infrequent as we built a general base, and figured out, with the help of a DNAFit genetic test we confirmed that Mike was prone to over-use injuries amongst other valuable insights. So we tailored distance with more moderate pace interval sessions during the approach to the London Duathlon. However, the significant part of his training was the STRENGTH and POWER work in the gym, where we could focus on proper biomechanics which would translate into speed and endurance with less training time. With 3 months to go, this blended in very well, and motivation carried Mike through to being much closer to all-time race preparation than he has ever been.
Mike executed a storming race, and finished a very respectable 57th overall for the full duathlon distance. We agreed a pacing strategy for his ability which he stuck with religiously. This served as the the foundation stepping stone towards a personal best target at the Seville Marathon in Feb 2019.
Having secured such an excellent performance, we maintained training momentum after a few days rest and necessary recovery to make sure of and benefit from adaptations. Depending on ability and objectives, 5 months isn’t necessarily ample training time especially coming back from an major injury. Mikes objectives where to break his personal best marathon time of 3h03min set a few years prior and go sub-3hrs…so not such a trivial challenge from his current status.
Rehabilitation after the London Duathlon was quite straight forward as Mikes strength foundations meant his recovery was short-lived. We transitioned into more of a power phase, and still working on biomechanical limiters, a stretching and physio programme addressed these imbalances. With the Seville marathon scheduled for the 2nd February, winter training goes quickly, especially as Mike acquired a flu bug and gastro-upset during the Christmas break. This really condensed his programme for the marathon, and postponing the longer runs, after what was the breakthrough work on the track. We really dialed in the most effective interval sessions for him, prescribing teh optimal combination of 200,400, 800,1200 & 1600m efforts at target paces. With just 6 weeks to go, Mike had managed to get the required distance in his legs, but the challenge was to be able to recover from both volume and intensity in just 3 weeks. This often takes a leap of faith, as with an abbreviated programme, may intermediate or advanced runners would be concerned of losing fitness. But with the hard and soft taper approach and the perfect schedule of workouts prior, the last 2 weeks worked-out better than we could hope for, and proved the mental relaxation needed to overcome such a challenge a head of him, without being overly anxious.
Again, Mike executed what I had recommended as his potentially best pacing strategy to target 2h58′ as a margin…avoiding the notorious and detrimental fast start.
His brief race feedback highlights the effectiveness of an abbreviated programme in the face of challenges during the build-up and other life considerations such as acute illness. Ultimately, session prescription was reflected in his Training Peaks performance management chart (shown above) which was as OPTIMAL as you could achieve given the circumstances and expendable training time……
“Felt the best I have ever in a marathon. Took gels at km 13, 23 and 29. Drank plenty of small ampoules of water and some Gatorade towards the end. The very frustrating thing is that I think I could have run faster and ran the whole race thinking I was well on time for a sub 3; it turns out the official clock has me 11sec behind. My garmin thinks I ran quite a bit more than the official 42.195km. Bottom line is should have paced myself to allow for distance discrepancies. No good for age for London which is a bummer but at least I am confident I can physically pull a sub 3 next time.”
His all-important Strava time recorded 2h58’…..top show.
“Simons scientific and holistic approach to training has not only led me to a PB in road racing but has kept me fit and healthy throughout the year. Blood lactate tests on the treadmill and the turbo as well as remote testing ensured the training sessions were frequently adapted to my fitness improvements and specific weaknesses.” Mike U